Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"I Like This Guy (Though I May Possibly Have Confused Him With Myself)"

Have you ever wondered if you admired a person not because there is something inherently admirable about them but because they remind you significantly of yourself?

That’s just a cheesy mode of self-adulation, isn’t it?  Or maybe it isn’t.  The question is, how do you identify the distinction?

Or does admiring people who remind you of yourself normal and natural so I should forget about it and write about something more important like what it was like being a staff writer on Phyllis?  (Answer:  It was terrible.  Though that might have been because Cloris Leachman was absolutely nothing like myself.  Making my point, but in the opposite direction.)

Here’s where these random speculations derive from.

Recently, I was introduced via “Ted Talk” to…

No, wait.

How do I express this?

Over the years in this venue, there been have times when I have offered opinions that were provocative, unpopular, and angrily annoying because they stirred up feelings you were happy not to experience and now that they’re front and center you have to, followed by the necessary effort of forgetting them again.  Well, the good news is… 

I have actually been holding back, keeping my more unpalatable opinions to myself, sparing the reader even greater irritation and sparing myself the punishing abuse that would inevitably result.

“Give us an example of an opinion you deliberately held back.”


“Do you believe in decapitating puppy dogs?”

I am not doing this.

“You’re going to leave us in the dark, thinking you’re a horrible person without clarifying examples?”

Considering the alterative, yes.

“Hey, ‘Free Speech.’ Give it a shot.”

To quote Mark Twain, although not exactly in these words (so I guess it’s not really a quote though I will put it in quotation marks anyway…): “Free speech is a wonderful idea.  But it is best reserved for after you are dead.”  (Inference:  Where the inevitable backlash will have negligible effect.)


… I don’t know why I even let that “Blue Italics Guy” say anything; the guy pisses me off.

“Hey, I’m just ‘you’, you know.”

The “unconscious” me.  And you’re unconscious for a reason.

Anyway, again…

I was introduced, via “Ted Talk” to Alain De Botton, a philosopher who is not only charming – though, having admitted a strong identification I may be sneakily “bank-shotting” myself a compliment – intelligent and highly provocative, although also like me, open to charges of oversimplifying generalization, though I believe that (for both of us) is a scurrilous technique for dismissing our challenging pronouncements.

I believe de Botton gets away with such shenanigans (Implication:  And I wouldn’t) due, first to his surname, de Botton, carrying more immediate authority than Pomerantz – his disarming presentation and his mellifluous accent.  (Both of which I have neglected to cultivate.)…

His technique defusing such incendiary pronouncements as…

From Religion For Atheists

“It’s clear to me that religions are in the end too complex, interesting and on occasion wise to be abandoned simply to those who believe in them.” 

(Note not only the contentious nature of de Botton’s assertion but also his bon-mo-ish stylisticness.  Both of which I myself shoot for but only sporadically achieve.)  

De Botton further proclaims in this context that we are the first society of people in history who, rather than worshipping “The Transcendent”, has an unshakable faith only in ourselves.   

Elsewhere, de Botton – how I love saying “de Botton” – argues that we make ourselves (unnecessarily) unhappy by wanting things we do not currently have which upon deeper examination we discover we never wanted in the first place; we just envied others for possessing them. 

We additionally (unnecessarily again) make ourselves miserable, de Botton believes, by the fact that in an meritocratic society where there are (supposedly) no impediments to success, if it is true that you are “on top” because you deserve to be, then it is equally true, by implication, that you are on the bottom – or at least embarrassingly lower on the hierarchical “food chain” – because you also deserve to be.  (And how good can you – “you” meaning everyone not “on top”, which is an enormous amount of people – feel about that?)

Finally, in a recent New York Times Op-Ed piece which I shall publish in its entirely tomorrow… well… let me whet your appetite with only its title:

“Why You Marry The Wrong Person”

This guy’s terrific, isn’t he?

I am not ashamed to say so:

I love Alain de Botton!

Not only is he intrigued by rarely discussed subject matter, he offers dangerous opinions in public.  And I frequently agree with them.  (Because they are resonant with my own opinions?  You know what?  I don’t care.)

If I can’t always, or sufficiently often, do what de Botton does, I can at least introduce him (further; one of his YouTubed “Ted Talks” has attracted impressive multitudes of visitors) to my readers.

… banking on the TV-inspired strategy:  “New To You.”

I wish I were brave enough to do what de Botton does.  De Botton speaks freely and candidly.  Before he is dead.

I don’t know.   Maybe to do that,

You need a name like de Botton.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Had to look it up, out of curiosity. Here's the origins of the Mark Twain quote:


Jes said...

Go there Earl, your audience deserves your very best. Before you die.